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3.33  ·  Rating details ·  3,402 Ratings  ·  645 Reviews
In 1971, the state of Minnesota was rocked by the "Butcher Boy" incident, as coverage of a family brutally murdered by one of their own swept across newspapers and television screens nationwide.

Now, in present-day New Orleans, Polly Deschamps finds herself at yet another lonely crossroads in her life. No stranger to tragedy, Polly was a runaway at the age of fifteen, escap
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 29th 2009 by Vanguard Press (first published September 2009)
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Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I am holding Nevada Barr responsible: since picking up her newest novel, 13 , I have been losing sleep. Until the very last page had been read, sleep continued to evade me.

In all my lifelong voracious reading habits, I continue to find that writers can generally be classified in one of two groups: fine literary writers or terrific storytellers. Because the skill set and high level of artistry required is quite different for each group, rarely do the two groups meet and mesh. But Nevada Barr sta
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
I’m weird enough to read a book just to satisfy my curiosity about a title. It’s a prison tattoo, stands for 12 jurors, 1 judge & a chance. If you were curious I just saved you from having to read this. Not a book for the faint hearted (and I'm not) it’s just that it’s OVERLOADED with excessively graphic descriptions of children being murdered; a little subtlety wouldn’t have hurt.
Admittedly I got caught up in the story; I wanted to give it up but just couldn’t, so I’ll give the author som
Rosina Lippi
Nov 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Book Concierge
Audiobook read by Dan John Miller

From the book jacket - Nevada Barr has written a taut and terrifying psychological thriller. It carries the reader from the horrifying 1970s murder spree of a child – dubbed “Butcher Boy” – in Rochester, Minnesota, to Polly, the abused daughter of Mississippi “trailer trash,” to post-Katrina New Orleans.

My reactions
I’ve been a fan of Barr’s Anna Pigeon mystery series for a while now, but this is a completely different standalone novel. Much darker and more
Nov 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
If you're expecting Anna Pigeon, put the book down! I had to ask myself where did this one come from? Left field doesn't quite explain it, but 13 1/2 is so far removed from what I've read of Nevada Barr., it's almost like an evil, gleeful twin has taken over her writing hand. I liked it, in fact, I loved it. Many fans get angry when their favorite authors stray from the garden path. I embrace it. Bring it on, show me what you've got. And show me Ms. Barr did.

Spanning forty years, we're taken on
Nov 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's always a nervous time when a series author ventures out of the safety of the familiar, but this one works. It's a thriller, not a mystery; Polly Deschamps is no Anna Pigeon; and it's set, not in a national park, but post-Katrina New Orleans. But I urge you to take a step away from the familiar, and find a clever and emotionally real story about how people with calamitous pasts can make themselves anew.
Jordan Price
My friend has been raving about Nevada Barr, so I chose this book randomly and was happy to see it was a standalone title rather than part of an ongoing series. The prose blew me away. It was clean and direct and fresh. The multiple points of view were woven in a perfect balance. Just as I was dying to find out what happened to a character, we'd pick up a thread with a new character, and within a page I'd be riveted by their story and eager to know what happened to them.

I particularly loved the
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Ok. I love, love, love Nevada from her very first book. I used to live in New Orleans and my brother still does so I love the setting but that is all I loved about it.
I have got to say that this is very violently graphic, kids dying and gross things happening... I didn't like any of the characters, I could not finish this. Bring Anna back.
Kathleen Hagen
13-1/2, by Nevada Barr, A, Narrated by Dan John Miller, produced by Brilliance Audio, downloaded from

This is a stand-alone and, for my money, the best book Barr has written. I like the Anna Pigeon series, but this book presents some psychologically compelling and terrifying characters. The book begins with its main characters in parallel lives in the 1970’s. Rich and Dillon are two boys in an upper middle class family in Rochester, Minnesota, with what would be called everything to l
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
3.5 stars. When I think about it, there really isn't much to this novel. There is a woman with a troubled past who marries a man, and a kid convicted of murder. As the jacket says, these two stories become intertwined. There aren't too many scenarios that could mix those people together, so there isn't too much mystery here after a certain point. Up until everything begins to become clear, we get a riveting story of a boy who can't remember killing his family and what prison does to him. For tha ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Definitely not one of her best. Barr has really gotten off track lately with all the torturous detail about relentlessly gruesome, cruel, or gory aspects of her stories.

This is by far the worst case of it yet, with detailed recountings of murders, torture, animal cruelty, etc. and a painfully long, drawn-own, microscopically detailed discussion of every ounce of content in a hoarder's apartment.

In terms of plot, it's a bit gimmicky, too, though you see the gimmick coming from quite a ways away.
Wow. I would have to say, that from her break of writing Anna Pigeon national park mysteries, she had broken into the niche of writing psychological thrillers very well. This thriller would put you at the edge of the seat for an emotional and intense roller coaster ride, when the past collides with the present to prevent an inevitable future of history repeating itself. If you haven't read her mysteries, start now. If you have, like i've been, keep reading on. Five starts to Nevada Barr. This ga ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Nov 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2010
Total waste of reading time. I kept expecting this book to get better and it just never happened.
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is exciting to think that 13 1/2 is written by Nevada Barr known for her Anna Pigeon detective mystery series set in national parks. This psychological suspense novel set primarily in the city of New Orleans reminded me little of Barr's other well written works. Barr does once again however introduce readers to a strong female protagonist with a dark past. Polly leaves her abusive childhood home and in time builds a healthy and peaceful life for herself in New Orleans. She is intuitive, logic ...more
Barbara Mitchell
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this book from the library. All I saw was Nevada Barr and an unfamiliar title so I grabbed it. To my surprise it wasn't another story about Anna Pigeon set in a National Park. This is entirely different, a psychological thriller mostly set in post-Katrina New Orleans.

As befitting the setting, it is dark, moody, mysterious, intriguing, and full of odd characters. It begins in Minnesota, though, where an 11-year-old boy is tried and convicted of killing his parents and baby sister and i
Sep 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Cacophonous, anathema, fecund and effluvia (used three times) are just a sampling of some of what my mother would have called 50 cent words that are scattered unnecessarily through this novel written on an 8th/9th grade level of reading. If this sounds cruel to the author's expertise of big words, I apologize. There is nothing wrong with writing on the 8th/9th grade level because it is the level that appeals to most of the masses of people and there is definitely nothing wrong with this type of ...more
Aug 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: aty
This is a story about children who kill. It's not for the feint of heart.

I love a good mystery...I love the thrill of uncovering clues and putting them together to see if they fit and make a bigger clue. I love learning more about characters and locations and details. I love following the narrative to the point of completion. Because of this love of mine, I've gotten rather good at deciphering the mystery before the author finished the tale. (I couldn't do it in real life with all sorts of infor
Anne Holcomb
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Nevada Barr's writing seems to be getting a lot darker as time goes on! This is a shadowy and creepy stand-alone thriller that's not like the Anna Pigeon series at all. (although the last 3 books in that series have been getting darker as well). The book interweaves the lives of a Minnesota boy who is suspected of murdering his entire family, with the life of a woman who escapes a neglected childhood to start a new life in New Orleans.

I enjoyed the lightning-fast pacing of this book and read it
Jan 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
If it was possible to give 3 1/2 stars, that's what I'd rate. I had never read anything by Nevada Barr prior to this book, but I enjoyed it. Sure, about halfway through, I predicted where it was going - I would imagine it'd be hard NOT to know where it's going. However, it was still a good read, and the twist at the end was great. I wish that they had delved into Polly's storyline a little more - after all, the book started out with her and then switched over to the story of the two brothers, wh ...more
Sahil Patel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Having never read Nevada Barr before, I thought I give this one a try since it was a standalone. However, if this is any indication of what reading her series would be like, I think I'll pass. I had the story figured out pretty early in and kept hoping that she wouldn't go down the expected path. No luck. Could have been much better but read like a gorier version of James Patterson. Very simplistic when it could have been so much more involved.

The story involves an 11 year old boy who is convict
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-2016
4.5-5 stars.
Terrible. Juste terrible. Mais dans le bon sens.
Dès les premières pages, ce livre m'a aspirée, retournée, lavé le cerveau et recrachée, complètement dégoutée de la vie.
Merci France Loisirs, pour ces envois forcés lorsqu'on oublie de faire sa commande trimestrielle. Ce livre est resté dans ma PAL plus de 5 ans et je l'apprécie seulement maintenant.
À part Mo Hayder, qui reste et restera the Queen of the gore, je ne suis vraiment pas une fan de thrillers. Trop répétitifs, une fois qu'on
Nov 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Nevada Barr has left the wooded trail that we have become used to in her Anna Pigeon, park ranger books and gone down a completely different path where the murderer is no longer cozy but is dark, dangerous and depraved!

When I first picked this book up I was discouraged that I wasn't going to get a feel for another one of our national parks while I also got to enjoy a well written and gripping mystery. The disappointment lifted quickly and I found myself staying up just a little longer and linge
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A complex, psychological thriller with fully developed characters will keep the pages moving quickly while you're kept wondering which of the brothers from the past is which brother in present day New Orleans. Polly, as a young girl, escapes a horrific childhood in Louisiana and becomes a professor of literature and the center of her world is her two little girls. She meets, with help, one of the Marchand brothers, falls in love and subsequently marries him, against his brother's silent wishes. ...more
Rosie Beck
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
In 1971, 11 year old Dylan is convicted of killing everyone in his family with a hatchet except his older brother Rich, whom he injured significantly. He is name "Butcher Boy".
Polly runs away from an impossibly abusive home at 15 and heads to New Orleans. As an adult she meets Marshall Marchand and falls in love with does her two daughters. But she soon realizes that Danny, his brother, seems to be over controlling.
Things are not always as they appear, and the ending is a nail biter. T
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
My first Nevada Barr book, which book turns out to be, I understand, an abberration where she's concerned! LOL This is a very dark and strange bunch of characters she's created. Really weird people with such an engrossing story--like looking at something your mom's just told you not to look at!
The narrator, Dan John Miller, is simply flawless in his interpretations and voice inflections. I'm keeping him in mind when I select more audiobooks.

One of those pretty rare audiobooks that you won't wan
Apr 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the first Nevada Barr book that I've encountered that is not a part of the Anna Pigeon series. It's a true thriller, and I quite literally did not put the book down until I'd finished the last word. As much as I love Anna Pigeon, this step outside the familiar for Barr is fantastic. She handles the tension wonderfully, and I would particularly recommend this book to anyone who is familiar with the persona of Anna Pigeon, simply because 13 1/2 is SO, SO different!
Prima Seadiva
Oct 10, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook, reader was okay. I have read other of Nevada Barr's books. They fall into the mind candy category for me. Enjoyable but forgettable. I found 13 1/2 to be less than enjoyable. Story was obvious but also discombobulated. The characters were really annoying stereotypes. I don't mind some violence but in this book it was more disturbing.
To paraphrase a character in this book: Some books you read once and immediately forget.
This one I'll be glad to forget.
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
It was OK, I was expecting much more. I figured it out about halfway through. The end was anticlimactic. I didn't feel the connection between Polly and Marshall. It was too rushed. Some of the scenes dragged a bit. Also, Polly's background didn't lend much to the story. I was waiting for it to mean something.
Nov 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
11 year old boy is convicted of killing his family in a gruesome manner. This is his story. As a psychological thriller, this book kept me reading but I had to give the book only 2 stars because it burned my eyes with the constant need for hot sauce on people's tongues. And the whole premise is...gruesome. So be warned.
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Nevada Barr is a mystery fiction author, known for her "Anna Pigeon" series of mysteries, set in National Parks in the United States. Barr has won an Agatha Award for best first novel for Track of the Cat.

Barr was named after the state of her birth. She grew up in Johnstonville, California. She finished college at the University of California, Irvine. Originally, Barr started to pursue a career in
More about Nevada Barr...

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